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Can Lebanon’s new opposition win?
Lebanon is set to hold parliamentary elections on Sunday — the first since nationwide protests led to the fall of the government in October 2019. Since that time, Lebanon has undergone economic and political crises, including dramatic currency devaluation and an explosion at the Beirut port that left much of the capital destroyed.
In the previous elections, held in May 2018, voters overwhelmingly chose the same set of parties that have jointly ruled since 2005 — many of which have been in power since the end of the civil war in 1990. All of these parties cater to particular sectarian groups, reinforced by a voting system that allots seats on the basis of sect. While some self-styled “opposition” candidates ran in the last elections, only one gained a seat in parliament.
The opposition landscape in 2022 looks dramatically different. In the aftermath of Lebanon’s 2019 “October Revolution,” more than a dozen opposition movements have chosen to run candidates in the elections. Two or more opposition lists of candidates are running in almost every district, highlighting important divisions between these new groups. Conversely, governing parties have closed ranks to hold onto power amid widespread public outrage at their track record in office.